Radio Emergency Drone Squad Sarawak in need of funding for radio equipment: Bomba

Khirudin (2nd left) presenting a souvenir to Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian after receiving 723 new personal protective equipment and eight vehicles for the department.

By Nancy Nais

KUCHING, Aug 26: Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) is appealing to the state government to assist the Radio Emergency Drone Squad Sarawak (REDS) with funding for radio equipment.

Bomba Sarawak director Khirudin Drahman emphasised how vital the radio service was in emergency situations, citing the last two Search and Rescue (SAR) cases where REDS assisted Bomba in disaster management and rescue operations in locations with limited connectivity.

“Our current Government Integrated Radio Network (GERN) in Sarawak is quite limited. We can only communicate within 50km from our operations centre or fire station.

“Sarawak is the largest state in Malaysia with vast topography. When an accident happens at any of these far-flung rural areas which do not have any telecommunication services, radio, telephone, etc, then we hope REDS can help, which they have,” Khirudin told reporters after receiving 723 pieces of various personal protective equipment (PPE) and eight new vehicles for their operations from the federal government.

Sarawak Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian handed over the PPE and vehicles to Bomba Sarawak today.

Khirudin pointed out that the SAR incident in Mulu National Park last year was an example where the department’s helicopter needed to locate the team and a place to land, but there was limited radio communication.

“It became very difficult for our helicopter to know where to land. Based on these experiences, we realised that the radios from Reds can give us better coordinate to find the SAR team and victim,” said Khirudin, who stressed that time is of the essence, where every minute is golden and no one can afford to waste.

Currently, REDS has about 125 members all over Sarawak who are prepared to assist authorities in rendering their radio communication services expertise in disaster situations such as flood or forest fires.

“These people have their own equipment but if the state government could come in and assist them in getting more, this can help us in Bomba because it is crucial.

“Therefore I hope SDMC can consider this or perhaps giving REDS some sort of subsidy to get more equipment,” Khirudin said.

REDs, formed on June 26, 2016, is also a member of the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA) and has signed a memorandum of understanding with Malaysia Amateur Radio Transmitting Society (MARTS), the country’s first amateur radio club and the Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department.

Its president Zainuddin Hamdan said REDS now has three emergency radio repeaters where all response agencies can use during emergencies in Kuching, Serian and Mukah and is planning to install in Mulu, Sibu, Kapit, Pakan and Marudi.

In addition, he said their members from Kuching, Serian, Mukah, Sibu, Bintulu, Miri and Kapit divisions were also having their own radio equipment, as well as drone teams.—DayakDaily